asleep like a man with that jewel above price, an easy con-
science. Yes, sir." Professor Ball suddenly leaned forward
in his chair and thrust his long neck out, with a quick, viper-
like motion, and spat accurately into the dead, grey wood
ashes that filled the cold fireplace.
My God, Mr. Munn thought, is he going to talk all night?
Mr. Christian, he observed, was staring gloomily into the
empty fireplace, with his head bowed a little so that the lamp-
light shone on the slick, pink surface of his bald skull; and
Doctor MacDonald lay comfortably sprawled in the rocking
chair, his legs thrust out before him, and his unlit pipe stuck
between his teeth, which were revealed in a kind of secret
"Yes, sir/' Professor Ball continued, "sound asleep, and
never a subjunctive to disturb his slumber. But then the war
came on, and he said,f Beany, my boy, off I go.' And he did,
not nineteen years of age. He bore a charmed life, they all
said. And when it was over, he came back, after what you
might denominate as feats of superhuman endurance and
heroic valour. Then "—and Professor Ball spat again, with
that quick, viper-like forward thrust of the long neck—" that
man who had been, you might say miraculously, preserved
through storms of shot and shell, just stops to light his pipe
one morning when he comes out on the front porch to look
at the state of the weather, and he stumbles and falls down
the front steps and breaks his neck. Before the prime of life,
and the porch not very high. Truly, man knoweth not the
hour of his going forth." Professor Ball slowly raised one of
his big, clumsy, club-like bandaged hands in an oracular
gesture, then let it subside.
" He died a long time ago," Mr. Munn said. " I just barely
remember him when he'd come to see us sometimes."
"It was in 'seventy-eight he fell down the steps. Thirty-
five years old, I recollect, and just three years older than me.
But when we were boys we were together in Professor Bowie's
Academy, because I was forward with my books, if I may be
permitted without immodesty to say so. And Mordecai a0t